David Greene

As a kid in Oakland, Calif., Ryan Coogler hung out at a comic book shop near his school, reading about superheroes who looked nothing like him.

"As I got older, I wanted to find a comic book character that looked like me and not just one that was on the sidelines," Coogler says. "And I walk in and ask the guy at the desk that day, and say, 'Hey man, you got any comic books here about black people, you know, like with a black superhero?' And he was like, 'Oh, yeah, as a matter of fact, we got this one.'"

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Vanna White has been turning letters on Wheel of Fortune for 35 years. That's 6,500 shows — and I've seen a lot of them. It's amazing to think about how much the world has changed, even as White has been doing the exact same job.

NPR's Noel King and David Greene look back on a year of great music releases with writers who cover the various genres.

Lee Ann Womack, The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone

"Lee Ann Womack is sort of a modern traditionalist; she was a mainstream hitmaker in the late 90's, and she's in a different phase of her career now. With this particular album, she kind of is trying to get to what she feels like is the emotional core of country music: it's melancholy." - Jewly Hight

In Tiffany Haddish's new memoir, The Last Black Unicorn, she writes "I know that a lot of these stories will seem unbelievable. I look back over my life and I'm like, 'For real, that happened?'"

You could just look at Tiffany Haddish's career this year and ask that question. She was the breakout star of this summer's raucous hit movie, Girl's Trip, and last month, Haddish became the first African-American woman stand-up comedian to host Saturday Night Live.

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And it seems like the Republican National Committee has had some trouble figuring out exactly what to do with Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. They were supporting him before they weren't.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is now calling for Congressman John Conyers to resign. She spoke about this just a few moments ago. Let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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President Trump's agenda today seems familiar - head to the Hill, meet lawmakers, try to gin up more support for a tax overhaul. But the stakes seem to be getting higher day by day.

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Ivy Pochoda begins her new novel almost like she's trying to break up the ho-hum of an everyday morning: In the middle of downtown traffic, there's a man jogging, without a care, through Los Angeles' crazy maze of freeways. And, oh yeah, he's totally naked. "He's just completely antithetical to everything that I imagine a morning commuter is up against," Pochoda says. "He's free, he's bucking the rules, and he's moving."

Pochoda's novel is called Wonder Valley, and it follows several different characters who all connect back to that mystery man on the freeway.

Jason Reynolds' new novel Long Way Down is focused on a moment of decision. It happens in an elevator — teenaged Will is on his way to take revenge for the murder of his brother, but his plan is interrupted by a few visitors on the way down to the ground floor.

"Will is growing up in a community where there are certain rules," Reynolds says. "There's a code of conduct, and what those rules are is number one, no crying, number two, no snitching, and number three, always seek revenge."

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Things are about to get even stranger in Hawkins, Ind.

That's the small town the Netflix series Stranger Things is set in. The second season of the instant cult classic set in the 1980s is released Friday, and it picks up about a year after the first adventure into the Upside Down, the defeat of the Demogorgon monster and Eleven's apparent disappearance.

Stranger Things is the brainchild of twin brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, who said that their tastes are very similar — but that they fight all the time. It's mostly about writing.

Actor Tom Hanks has made us believe he can be anyone and do anything on the big screen.

Now he's taking us on a journey on the page: Tom Hanks has written a book.

It's a collection of short stories, with varied subjects: a World War II veteran on Christmas Eve in 1953, a California surfer kid who makes an unsettling discovery. There's time travel. In every story, Hanks sneaks in the machine he's so obsessed with — the typewriter.

When audiences watch a Jackie Chan movie, they know exactly what they're in for — lots of punching — but there's something that might surprise people about the actor. "I hate violence," Chan says. "But I make action films."

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I want to bring in NPR's Leila Fadel, who is on the line from Las Vegas this morning. She has been following all the developments. And, Leila, what is the latest in terms of who carried this out and what the authorities know at this point?

These days, David Crosby — one of the world's most recognizable rock stars — lives and works quietly in a ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif. with his three dogs—sometimes, he jokes, all named Fang.

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A lot of people already know the story of Friday Night Lights, in which a West Texas high school fights for the state football title. It started as a nonfiction book, then it became a movie (with Billy Bob Thornton as the coach) and finally a TV series. In the film, Thornton tells his team that to win state, they'll have to beat "a team of monsters" from Carter High School in Dallas (which they fail to do).

John Dean is very familiar with the Trump administration's declared war on leaks. Dean, who was President Richard Nixon's White House counsel, says Nixon's battle against leaks proved costly and led to the Watergate scandal.

Dean revealed the former Republican president's involvement in the attempted cover-up and pleaded guilty to his own role.

In England, there's something known as the "Dunkirk spirit," shorthand for coming together in times of adversity. It refers to the heroic evacuation of British troops by British civilians in small boats at the beginning of World War II — and it's a story director Christopher Nolan has wanted to tell for a long time.

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When you think about the 16 years America has been fighting in Afghanistan, "funny" probably isn't a word that comes to mind. So, at first blush, the new dark comedy War Machine feels a bit risky. It stars Brad Pitt as a revered but semi-clueless four-star general who's appointed to oversee the entire war effort in Afghanistan.

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